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Lawmakers consider bills targeting large livestock farms

29 January 2007

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's growing factory-style livestock industry has prompted bills that would impose everything from a three-year moratorium on new farm construction to fee hikes aimed at paying for more inspectors for the sprawling operations.

Three wide-ranging bills targeting the state's largest livestock farms are expected to draw spirited testimony Monday from supporters and opponents before a Senate panel.

Sen. Beverly Gard, who chairs the Senate's environmental affairs committee, is sponsoring the most sweeping of the bills - one that would significantly increase permit fees for new livestock farms to help the state hire more inspectors to monitor the farms for violations.

Her bill contains several other provisions, the most significant of which would require the State Chemist's Office to train farm workers in applying animal waste on cropland as fertilizer - the most common method of disposing of the large amounts of manure the farms generate.

Gard, R-Greenfield, said the single biggest complaint she hears about the farms arises from problems with land application of the manure they produce. Improper application of the nutrient-rich waste as fertilizer can threaten drinking water or kill fish.

Right now, she said Indiana has only enough farm inspectors to inspect each of the state's roughly 2,200 big livestock farms once every six or seven years.

Gard said the goal would be to hire enough additional inspectors so that each farm could undergo annual inspections.

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Source: Journal & Courier

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